National

Postal Service already scans your mail; now you can get the photos

Martha Aguilar, a mail clerk, sorts through letters last year at a post office in Miami.
Martha Aguilar, a mail clerk, sorts through letters last year at a post office in Miami. Tribune

The United States Postal Service already takes a photograph of every letter mailed in the United States.

Now, it will share that picture with you, letting you know what mail to expect later in the day.

Informed Delivery is a service that scans the outside of regular, letter-sized mail and will send it via e-mail each morning to users who’ve signed up, letting them know what to expect later in the day.

The service rolled out Friday to most ZIP codes across the United States, including Kansas.

There are safeguards in place to ensure that photos of your mail will only be sent to you.

However, the Postal Service does sometimes provide photos to law enforcement agencies during criminal investigations. The photos have even been used to trace ricin-laced letters sent to President Obama and Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York.

The photos have cropped up in less serious instances, too: In the 2017 CBS reality television show “Hunted,” one team of fake fugitives discovered their method of communication was compromised by investigators who had obtained photos of their friends’ and family members’ mail.

Visit https://informeddelivery.usps.com/ to see whether Informed Delivery is available in your area.

Find out how we got the word "mail" and why stamps were invented in this animated video was created in 1993 for the National Postal Museum's Stamps and Stories gallery.

Katherine Burgess: 316-268-6400, @KathsBurgess

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